About Us

We are Chol – where everything is possible.

Leading a creative revolution in local communities where every young person feels powerful, valued, and connected.

We specialise in co-creating art in everyday spaces with children and young people from early years to early career. Our practice increases artistic skills, literacy and confidence. This enables participants from all backgrounds to feel powerful and connected. Our primary focus is to bring theatre and arts into the heart of  local communities, inspiring creativity and making art accessible for everyone.

We believe in the power of art

Through our flagship arts projects Imaginary Communities and Equal Players we inspire creativity. We specialise in co-creating art in everyday spaces and explore real and imagined stories, to create theatre and art that is accessible to everybody.

Young people from Rotherham making a Theatre performance. Inspire creativity,
Young people rehearsing ‘Tribo Fogo’, 2016

Cholavan at Flock of Stories, RSPB Old Moor Reserve 2021

We are socially conscious and interested in local communities.

We are based in Yorkshire but work nationally, with connections throughout the world. Our work takes place in everyday spaces – libraries, schools, streets, parks and community centres. Our projects are driven by our desire to involve people in making art that responds to identity and locality.

We create contemporary work

That explores people’s responses to where they live, to cultural works and creates opportunities people may not have previously encountered. In particular we look at hidden stories, engaging participants through the experience of making art, connecting people and raising aspirations.

Kirklees Windrush Mural 2020

We work with a variety of partner organisations

We work with a number of partners in local communities including libraries, schools, charities and arts organisations.

Some current partner organisations include Kirklees Libraries, Migration Matters Festival, Create Sheffield and The Lawrence Batley Theatre. To see our full list of partner organisations past and present please check out Our Partners page.

History of Chol

Chol Theatre was set up in 1989 as a partnership between husband and wife team Adam and Kim Strickson. Chol – the name is a Bangla word meaning the sound of water lapping against the side of a boat – presented a mix of professional and community productions. International exchanges and development education featured strongly in the early days.

In 1995, the company was established as a charity with a mission to bring artists and communities together to make work that reflected diverse voices. The work portrayed everyday life in northern industrial towns, from friendships across divides to the 2001 riots in Bradford and Oldham. Productions included Three Beaches, Rusty Angels and a Transit Van, The Beautifully Loose Asia Show and The Ghost Lesson.

By 2002 the founders had left and Susan Burns became director, working on a number of community projects with children and young people, with a focus on refugee and asylum seeker families. In 2004, we became a resident company at Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre, where we have gone from strength to strength.

Susan has worked alongside notable resident artists, writers and directors including Shanaz Gulzar, Anna Zaluczkowska, Joanne Froggatt, Rebecca Winwood, and Andrew Loretto. Chol Theatre has toured plays and projects across the north of England including Space Circus, Beast Market, Have You Seen Evangeline, Worlds Apart, Extraordinary Moves and HD100.

In 2012, Vicky Storey joined the team and worked with the company to develop ‘Imaginary Communities’  and greatly extended the company’s programme of work with children and young people. We created a trilogy of plays with children and young people in Rotherham Taking Back the Town (2015) Tribo Fogo (2016) and Escape Realms (2019).

The core company team expanded in 2018 to include Lauren Ash and Jessica Woodhead. In 2019 we rebranded and our name is now simply ‘Chol’.

We are now national leaders in live story-making using co-creation to develop our projects.

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